Can Constipation Cause Back Pain?

Perhaps you’re experiencing back pain and constipation and wondering: Can constipation cause back pain?

Constipation and back pain are common health issues that can cause discomfort and negatively impact daily life.

While seemingly unrelated, it’s essential to explore how these two symptoms could be linked. 

Back pain can result from constipation, and one of two things could typically be the cause. One is through fecal impaction, which is caused by a blockage in the rectum or colon.

The other is general constipation, which occurs when the colon is full and creates pressure in the abdomen.

Getting more fiber and water into your diet, and staying active can prevent these conditions.

This blog post will delve into the association between back pain and constipation. We’ll explore the potential effects of constipation on the back.

And we’ll look at the treatment options available and when to consult a medical professional.

Can Constipation Cause Back Pain?

Understanding the connection between constipation and back pain requires examining the anatomical and physiological factors at play.

This section will explore how fecal impaction and general constipation contribute to back pain and the mechanisms involved.

How Fecal Impaction Can Cause Back Pain

Fecal impaction occurs when a hardened stool accumulates in the colon or rectum, making it difficult or even impossible to pass.

It’s a severe form of constipation and can lead to back pain in different ways.

Increased Pressure On The Lower Back

As the impacted stool builds up, it can create pressure in the lower abdominal region.

This pressure can be transmitted to the lower part of the back. And it could result in discomfort and pain.

Nerve Irritation

The buildup of waste material in the colon can irritate the nerves in the surrounding area. And some of these nerves run through the lower back.

This irritation can also cause painful sensations radiating to various areas of the body from the lower back.

Muscle Strain And Spasms

When attempting to pass the impacted stool, individuals often strain and push. This can lead to muscle tension in the lower back.

And the straining can result in muscle spasms, which can further exacerbate the back pain.

Postural Changes

Fecal impaction can cause discomfort that leads to alterations in posture, such as hunching or leaning to one side.

These postural changes can put additional strain on the muscles and ligaments in the back, contributing to pain.

How General Constipation Can Cause Back Pain

Even without fecal impaction, general constipation can still significantly contribute to back pain. The following conditions could result from general constipation.

Abdominal Pressure

A full colon from constipation can cause increased pressure in the abdomen, which may be transmitted to the lower back.

This pressure can irritate the nerves that run through the lower back, leading to pain.

Muscle Strain And Spasms

Straining to pass a bowel movement can result in tension in the lower back muscles.

This tension can trigger muscle spasms, which can initiate or aggravate back pain.

Referred Pain

Referred pain refers to pain experienced in a part of the body that’s not near the source of the pain.

In the case of constipation, the discomfort in the abdominal region can be referred to as the lower back. As a result, you may feel the sensation of back pain.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Chronic constipation can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. This is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles weaken or become tight. And the dysfunction thereof can result in lower back and pelvic pain.

How Back Pain Can Cause Constipation

Interestingly, back pain can also contribute to constipation. A common side effect of pain medications, particularly opioids, is constipation.

Additionally, limited mobility due to back pain may lead to reduced physical activity. And this inactivity can contribute to constipation.

Treatment Options For Back Pain Due To Constipation

Addressing constipation is often the key to relieving back pain caused by constipation. Some common treatments include:

  • Increasing fiber intake: Consuming more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help promote regular bowel movements.
  • Staying hydrated: Ensuring you drink roughly 2 liters of water is vital for softening stools and preventing constipation.
  • Gentle exercise: Physical activity can help stimulate bowel movements and alleviate back pain by promoting muscle relaxation.

Can Physical Therapy Help Back Pain Caused By Constipation?

Physical therapy can be beneficial in managing back pain caused by constipation.

A physical therapist can provide you with targeted exercises and movements to improve digestion and encourage regular bowel movements.

Additionally, they can suggest stretches and relaxation techniques to alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

It’s essential to consult a medical professional if you experience severe or persistent back pain. Especially if it’s accompanied by constipation. Other warning signs that warrant a doctor’s visit include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fever or chills
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Inability to pass gas

These symptoms could indicate a more serious underlying condition requiring prompt medical attention.


Constipation can cause back pain through fecal impaction, increased abdominal pressure, and muscle tension from straining.

Addressing constipation through dietary changes, hydration, and physical activity can often alleviate back pain.

Physical therapy may also provide relief for back pain caused by constipation. 


1.) Can Constipation Cause Upper Back Pain?

Constipation primarily affects the lower back due to its proximity to the colon and rectum.

But it can occasionally cause upper back pain through referred pain or muscle strain from prolonged straining during bowel movements.

However, upper back pain is less common and can occur as a result of other factors. Therefore, it’s best to speak to a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.

2.) Can Back Pain From Constipation Be Prevented?

Yes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent constipation and the associated back pain.

This includes eating a healthy fiber-rich diet, keeping hydration levels up, exercising frequently, and overcoming stress.

Addressing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements can reduce the risk of developing back pain related to constipation.

3.) How Long Does Back Pain Last After Treating Constipation?

The duration of back pain relief after treating constipation can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the constipation.

Typically, back pain should subside once the constipation is resolved and bowel movements return to normal.

However, consult a healthcare professional to rule out other potential causes if back pain persists despite resolving constipation.

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